January 29, 2011

AP’s ‘Fact Check’ of HHS Scare Stat Also Factually Challenged

Ten days ago, on the eve of the House vote to repeal ObamaCare, Kathleen Sebelius’s Department or Health and Human Services issued a fearmongering press release saying that “129 million Americans with a pre-existing condition could be denied coverage without new health reform law.”

Ten days later, on a Friday afternoon (naturally), the Associated Press’s Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar finally got around to skeptically evaluating HHS’s claim. Way to be there at crunch time, Ricardo (/sarc).

Here are selected paragraphs from Ricardo’s rendition:

FACT CHECK: Did gov’t stretch health care stat?

It’s a striking statistic.

Without President Barack Obama’s health care law, as many as 129 million Americans – half of those under age 65 – could be denied coverage or charged more because of a pre-existing medical condition.

The new estimate by the Health and Human Services Department is more than twice as high as a figure that supporters of the law were using last year.

It just might need an asterisk.

Most of those millions of people are covered by health insurance at work and don’t face any immediate risk of being denied care for their pre-existing medical problems. And as a rule, those who take a new job and sign up in their employer’s health plan are already protected by a 1990s law.

“It’s a hypothetical situation, not an actual situation,” said economist Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change. “Most of these people don’t have a problem, with or without health reform, because they get their coverage through their employment, and employer coverage takes everybody.” The center is a nonpartisan research organization.

… “It’s like trying to estimate hurricane fatalities by the number of people living on the seashore,” said Edmund Haislmaier, a health policy expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation. Most people in the path of a hurricane would evacuate, some would hunker down in reinforced homes; only a fraction would face the worst consequences, said Haislmaier.

“People are not going to suddenly face losing coverage if you repeal this law,” he added. The Heritage Foundation supports repeal.

The Obama administration stands by the statistic.

Note how what the press usually referred to before the November elections as the Affordable Health Care Act is now “Obama’s health care law.”

The AP reporter described the Heritage Foundation as “conservative,” but the Center for Studying Health System Change, whose abbreviation is HSC, as “nonpartisan.” Spare me:

HSC is funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. HSC helps support the Foundation’s overall mission to improve the health and health care of all Americans.

David Colby, RWJF vice president of research and evaluation, is responsible for administering the Foundation’s funding of HSC. Debra Perez serves as program officer.

As Michelle Malkin’s latest column notes:

… the left-leaning, nationalized health care-promoting Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – has direct ties to the White House. Obama health care czar Nancy DeParle sits on the foundation’s board of trustees.

RWJF is also among the parade of employers, unions, and other organizations which have obtained ObamaCare waivers. Apparently, the Foundation’s philosophy is: “ObamaCare for thee, but not for me.”

As described above, if ObamaCare is ever fully repealed, even without any kind of replacement, the large majority of the 129 million people HHS cited would never see coverage denials.

Alonso-Zaldivar should have noted that HHS’s press release refutes the agency’s own headline — twice:

  • The release’s sub-headline reads: “Without Affordable Care Act protections, in 2014, 1 in 2 non-elderly Americans could be denied coverage or charged more due to a pre-existing condition.” There’s a big difference between being denied coverage and having to pay more to get coverage.
  • The HHS further adds a further qualifier about halfway into the release: “Prior to the Affordable Care Act, in the vast majority of states, insurance companies in the individual market could deny coverage, charge higher premiums, and/or limit benefits based on pre-existing conditions.” So there are three possibilities, not just one.

The furthest Alonzo-Zaldivar will go is to say that HHS’s claim “might need an asterisk.” Might?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Oops: AP Says GDP Report Was Causing Stock Market Rise in AM, Quietly Cites It As Reason for Decline After Close

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 8:23 am

It seems that Associated Press Business Writer David K. Randall made a bad call yesterday. But he only has himself to blame for engaging in what he should have known was wishful thinking.

Shortly after the government’s report on economic growth during the fourth quarter of 2010 came in with an annualized 3.2% reading, Randall put out this this short report:

Stocks edge up after stronger GDP report

Stocks are rising in early trading after a report showed that the U.S. economy is growing.

… The Dow Jones is up 7 points, or 0.1 percent, to 11,997 in morning trading. The S&P 500 is up 1, or 0.1 percent, to 1,300. The Nasdaq composite is flat at 2,755.

What piffle. First, the report trailed expectations of 3.5%. Second, the “rising” Randall described — 0.06%, on the Dow, 0.07% with the S&P 500, and nothing in the Nasdaq — amounted to mere rounding errors.

By Friday’s close, the markets were down significantly, at which point Randall, along with colleague Matthew Craft, had changed their tune. In a report that also cited the situation in Egypt and a number of disappointing earnings reports as contributors, the pair noted the following in their eighteenth and second-last paragraph:

A lower than expected report on the U.S. economy helped lead to a market sell-off as well. The Commerce Department reported that U.S. gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent between October and December. That was below the 3.5 percent that analysts had forecast.

In other words, “Oops.”

If the Randall’s and Craft’s goal is to minimize the impact of the GDP disappointment in readers’ minds, they could hardly have done a “better” job:

  • Their story’s headline (“World Markets Sink as Protests Escalate in Egypt”) doesn’t mention the GDP miss.
  • Many if not most readers won’t get to Paragraph 18.
  • In what would appear to be an attempt to keep it from readers who might skip to the final paragraph after reading the first few, the GDP paragraph is inexplicably sandwiched in between items about specific companies.
  • And of course, many outlets carrying the AP story didn’t carry all of it, dropping later paragraphs (example here).

For the record, this fourth quarter of 2010 was the sixth full quarter after the recession as normal people define it and as the National Bureau of Economic Research defines it ended. Annualized GDP growth during the first quarter of 1984, the sixth post-recession quarter in the Reagan Era, was 8.0%.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Cindy Crawford stops at Children’s

Filed under: Health Care,Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Cincinnati:

January 28, 2011

The unusual collaboration of a furniture store, a supermodel and a children’s hospital resulted in a $20,000 donation for the hospital Friday.

While in town to support the grand opening of Morris Home Furnishings in Springdale, Cindy Crawford stopped by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Corryville on to present a check from proceeds of the sales of her new furniture collection.

Morris Home Furnishings is the only retailer in Ohio carrying the Cindy Crawford line, which launched this month.

After touring the cancer research labs, Crawford met with MeiLing Rumping and her 6-year-old-daughter, Hannah, who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in 2007 and was treated at the hospital.

“Even just a few years before that it would’ve been difficult to detect, but because of the labs they have here, they were able to quickly find it and start a treatment plan,” MeiLing said.

Crawford said donating to a children’s hospital known for its research has special meaning for her.

Her younger brother, Jeff, died of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) when she was 10, and Crawford has focused her fundraising to help hospitals, bone marrow donor centers and other organizations that provide research, education and patient services for leukemia and other childhood diseases.

“At the time it was ‘How long can we keep him alive?’” Crawford recounted. “Now, almost 90 percent of children with ALL are cured. We spend all this money on research … and it does add up.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.